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Putin Extends Russia’s Coronavirus Lockdown as New Infections Continue to Rise

Russia now ranks eighth in the world for coronavirus infections, with 93,558 confirmed Covid-19 cases as of Tuesday. Sergei Kiselyov / Moskva News Agency

President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday extended the national “non-working” month through May 11, warning that Russia has yet to see the peak of its coronavirus outbreak.

Russia now ranks eighth in the world for coronavirus infections, with 93,558 confirmed Covid-19 cases as of Tuesday. Putin originally declared a “non-working” week late in March, then extended it until Thursday, April 30, as Russia registered increases in Covid-19 cases.

“The situation remains very complicated… Russia has managed to slow down the spread of the epidemic, but we haven’t passed the peak yet,” Putin said on a conference call with regional governors. 

The extended lockdown measures affect Russia's early-May public holidays, which normally have three working days between May 1 and May 11.

“I think it’s right to declare these three days [May 6-8] non-working. Thus, the non-working period will extend until May 11,” he said.

“The deadly threat of the virus remains, it could affect everyone. In that regard, we all need to be concentrated, disciplined and mobilized,” Putin said in his fifth public address regarding the outbreak.

Putin also ordered officials to draw up measures to gradually lift restrictions starting May 12 by next week. Russia's governors are still authorized to take measures against the outbreak specific to their regions.

His announcement comes two days after Russia’s top health official warned of another spike in Covid-19 cases after the early May public holidays if people ignored lockdown measures. Market data indicated that demand for barbecue and grilling products grew by 1.5 this weekend compared with earlier in April, suggesting preparations to spend the holidays in countryside dachas.

In Moscow, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, the coronavirus lockdown has been extended until May 13, the Govorit Moskva radio station reported, citing a copy of an order from Mayor Sergei Sobyanin it obtained.

Muscovites are required to apply for digital passes to travel outside shops, pharmacies and a 100-meter radius to walk dogs under a system imposed to monitor people’s movements during the lockdown. 

The governor of the Moscow region surrounding the Russian capital had extended lockdown measures into the early-May public holidays on Monday.

Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has meanwhile ordered Russia’s consumer protection watchdog to draft steps by Wednesday toward gradually reopening the economy.

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